This awesome road trip was the creation of my wonderful wife, Deanna. She did all the planning and I was simply the driving labor. We left on Sunday, Oct. 12th, traveled for six days, and returned on the 17th.
day 1: We departed from Redwood City, CA at mid-day, taking I84E to I680N to I80E to I505N to I5N (nothing very exciting here, just gettin' out of town) to CA Hwy 36W arriving in Mineral, CA for our first night's stay at the Lassen Mineral Lodge Motel at the south gate of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
day 2: We got up bright and early and drove CA Hwy 89N through Lassen Volcanic National park where we enjoyed a casual morning surrounded by intense volcanic geology, black-tailed deer, crystal blue streams and crisp blue skies. At mid-day we drove out of the park and headed for the other Northern California volcano of note, Shasta. We took A10 up the mountain to its end at Panther Meadow where we had a nice picnic lunch. We saw a (rare) perigrine falcon and several hawks (I think a couple of redtails and a sharpshinned). After our lunch, we drove I5N to Weed, CA where we turned off and took Hwy 97N to Oregon, through Klamath Falls to OR Hwy 62W which carried us into Crater Lake National Park. We arrived before sunset and had a great dinner and spent the night at the historic Crater Lake Lodge.
day 3: We woke up early Tuesday morning and drove around Crater lake on West Rim Drive. A fun, fun drive with spectacular views. There was scattered snow on the ground and the lake and sky were the most beautiful blue. We exited the north side of the park taking (a very, very straight) Hwy 138E to Hwy 97N to Hwy 58W, and over to Hwy 46N which followed a very cool lava flow, past a few small lakes, and a snowy Mount Bachelor and on through Bend, OR. Then we took Hwy 97N again, where I learned that it's illegal to fill your own gas tank in OR, up to Hwy 26N at Madras, OR and then up to the Timberline Lodge (from The Shining) on a very snowy Mount Hood. After a brief stop at the Timberline where Deanna tossed a hastily made snowball at me, we drove down the mountain heading north to Hood River, OR and the Columbia River Gorge, taking a drive west on I84 and crossing into WA from The Dalles, OR. We took WA Hwy 15 West to Stevenson and crossed a very cool old truss bridge called the Bridge of the Gods (what a view!) then back on Hwy 84 for a jog over to a spectacularly beautiful drive on Hwy 30E (if you like driving, this highway is for you), passing through dense groves of Oregon fir trees, by the beautiful Multnoma Falls, and a arriving at the great Crown Point State Park lookout. From there we drove to Troutdale, just east of Portland, for our night's stay.
day 4: Wednesday morning, we got up and headed north, back across to Washington and over Hwy 4W, following the Columbia River to hwy 101 on the coast. We stopped to look out at Cape Disappointment (not at all disappointing). We continued south and saw a bald eagle through the sunroof just before crossing the 4-mile long cantilever Astoria-Megler Bridge over to Astoria, OR. From there we traveled on to Canon Beach and south to Ocean Side where we got off of Hwy 101 and just south of Tillamook took the Three Capes Loop, a spectacular 35-mile byway that's definitely one of the coast's best driving experiences, covering Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, Cape Lookout State Park, and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. After that nice loop, we rejoined 101 and took it down through Pacific City and on to Lincoln City, where we stayed in a very nice Best Western suite overlooking the Pacific (Deanna got it cheap, too, since we showed up at about 6:30 and they must have been trying to fill up rooms). We did a brief grocery shop and Deanna prepared a delicious filet mignon with mushrooms for me, and halibut for her plus a couple of baked potatoes, a caesar salad and a bottle of wine. It was a nice relaxing evening of semi-luxury to cap off day 4 of our road trip.
day 5: Leaving Lincoln City, OR, we headed south on Hwy 101 through Gleneden Beach, to Depoe Bay, just south of which we took the Otter Crest Loop, a nice ocean-side drive featuring the dramatic Cape Foulweather and The Devil's Punchbowl, then on Newport, Waldport, and Yachats (pronounced "Yah-hots"), the high elevations of Cape Perpetua, Haceta Head, Florence and its nearby dunes, Reedsport, where we saw a couple of herds of elk, a pair of kingfishers and a hawk perched a few feet away from us along the Umpqua River. Then it was on to the Coos Bay area where we had a great lunch at the Blue Heron Bistro (very good, go there, eat, 100 W Commercial St.). After lunch we drove south through Bandon where we saw cranberry bogs for the fist time, and on past Cape Blanco to Gold Beach where we crossed he Rogue River and headed down through Brookings for the last of the "cheap gas" and free full service. As we crossed back into California we saw more elk, then drove through Crescent City and on to Redwood National Park where we got off of Hwy 101 for a little while and enjoyed some of the Coastal Drive and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway (Old Hwy 101) lined with beautiful firs and redwoods of the Prarie Creek Redwood State Park. Back on Hwy 101 we drove down through Arcata and on through Eureka to Fortuna, CA where we stayed the night.
day 6: Waking to our last day of driving, we headed south on Hwy 101 for a few miles before hitting the exit for the Avenue of the Giants in Humbolt Redwoods State Park. It smelled wonderful, the scenery was intoxicating and we took our time, spending all of the morning hours driving and photographing the 30 or so miles of grand coast redwoods. Words fail me so I won't even try to describe it. This is our second trip into these giants and we'll surely return. We emerged from the park and onto Hwy 101 near Garberville and soon left 101 at Leggett for the thrill of Hwy 1 winding through the Coastal Range and out to the Pacific. At the coast the drive turns seriously ef-yu-en and beautiful too. We drove through Rockport, south to Fort Bragg, then Russian Gulch SP, and on to Mendocino for lunch at what is quickly becoming a favorite stop, the Bay View Cafe. You must try their crab meat (with avocado slices) sandwich. An amazing sandwich and a stunning view from the balcony was the kind of mind fuel we needed to make the final charge south. If you like driving (and I really like driving) the drive south on Hwy 1 from Mendocino through Elk Point Arena, Gualala, Stewart's Point and around Northwest Cape is just amazing. Amazing. I mean it. Really amazing. (Ben, you really want to drive this). We made it as far as the north side of Jenner before we stopped to watch the sun set over the cliffs and rocks and seals and the Russian River feeding into the frothy Pacific. It really doesn't get any more beautiful and again, words wouldn't do it justice so I'll just have to leave it at that. After sunset and before dark we made it through Bodega Bay and as the last of the twilight faded we decided to abandon the coast and headed back to 101 and the fast (way too fast, I can't believe I didn't get a ticket or some jail time) way home. We crossed The Golden Gate Bridge against a nice SF night skyline at about 8 PM and made it through the city and back down I280 to Redwood City just after 8:30 PM.
I've just dumped about 500 digital photos to iPhoto and if I can find some easy way to make a gallery available online then I'll try to get something posted tomorrow. The pictures tell the story so much better than the few paragraphs above.